Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When Grief Looks More Like Joy...

                                                                  Photo by Jarrod Cecil

And then you wake up and she's gone. And you feel nothing. You are numb and the tears that should be falling are bottled up somewhere in your person and they aren't falling. You want so badly to start the grieving process but you can''s been such a long death. And you wonder, am I even sad?

Your best friend brings you homemade fudge and as it turns out fudge goes really well with red wine and you start to smile and the "feelings" are coming back but this time your grief looks like joy.

You recall the way she swayed back in forth in the kitchen, her apron brushing the countertop as she made you ice cold tomato and mayo sandwiches, dashing them with the perfect amount of salt and pepper.

The way she opened up the screen door and hollered for her dog, "Ma-GGIE" and mumbled under her breath when the spoiled beagle ran away. The way she could point to any tree in the forest and tell you what it was called and when its foliage would turn color and drop. The way a sighting of an ordinary Red Bird or Blue Jay caused her to pause and consider the very nature of God.


You recall the way the Lord's Prayer flowed off her lips and how Scripture was framed throughout the house. And peace drapes a blanket across your shoulders. 


Today I will stop long enough to allow whatever shift happened in my heart the day she drew her last breath, to settle in down deep...


Her hands served the poor, her soul was sealed to her God, her feet carried out His commands, her spirit was filled with joy and thanksgiving, and her voice spoke of love and kindness and most of all....conviction.


She was modest, humble, and unapologetic in her pursuit of Jesus Christ. And I was chosen to fall in her family line. Why God would be this kind to me will remain a mystery… 


Her legacy looks like pontoon boat rides, jumping off docks and floating in lakes wearing  swimming suits that adorned long skirted ruffles.  It looks like loving her family members unconditionally and rallying the troops through difficult times.


It smells like fresh from the farm scrambled eggs and big bowls of steamy creamy smokin hot grits wrapped in butter…homemade meatloaf floating in her special sauce and the best ever creamed corn bread.  


And it sounds like the pages of a Bible flipping through arthritic hands. 


It feels like a *strong will* submitted in prayer and warm kisses on the cheek. It feels courageous. It feels passed on and it feels received.


Your little girl weeps at the news and then with all seriousness asks if she can paint her fingernails black for the party. I remind her it is called a funeral and she looks confused.


"Are we celebrating her life? Then it's a party."


Yes little Margaret…It's a party.   

On Thursday we are going to a "party", some of us will have our nails painted black and wear a little make up on our eyes, to celebrate a life that stood for something substantial.


We will raise a toast to a woman who loved purposefully and profoundly. We will eulogize her by bending the knee to The King in which she spent a lifetime serving and worshiping.


And now, wrapped in His righteousness she stands holy, worthy, redeemed, fully restored and glowing in the Light. If I close my eyes I can almost hear the Fathers voice saying to her...

"Well done my good and faithful servant. WELL done. Welcome home."

When I get to Heaven, I will find her one of two places...this I know for sure. Either she will be on her face worshiping her King, or I will follow the smell of fresh brewed coffee and sour cream pound cake... there she will be with her radiant smile and a chair pulled out waiting for me. I will ask her where my grandpa is and she will say "listen." and I will hear his voice in the choir singing Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb..."

And I will say to her....well, "Thistle-do-me -too" and we will laugh at the family inside joke...


But for today, as I allow this to process, you will find me wandering around gathering details for the party, singing…


"When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll;

Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,

It is well, it is well, with my soul."


Because she taught me that hymn and because it is indeed...well.